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Sun at Work Canada – Occupational Sun Safety for Outdoor Workers


When we think of sunshine and suntans, we usually think first of vacations. But the many workers whose jobs are outside are far more exposed to sunlight and its dangers than even the most determined vacationer.

Sun safety at work is the responsibility of both employees and employers – it’s in everyones best interest!

Sun at Work is a program that focuses on occupational sun safety in Canada. We have outlined key practices and tips below and have also included downloadable resources for both employees and employers to reference. If you wish to have more information, please contact kfm@saveyourskin.ca or call 800-460-5832.

Sun Safety for Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers have a higher risk of skin cancer than those in any other field of work.

This is due to their being at work between ten and four, when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. In addition, they work in the spring and summer months, when UV radiation is the most intense.

Therefore, it is important that outdoor workers take precautions to protect their skin and be sun safe.

Here are some helpful hints:

Know the Intensity

The intensity of UV rays and UV radiation varies conditionally. You need to be more cautious in these situations:

  • From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • When there is a lack of thick cloud cover
  • From mid-spring through mid-fall
  • At higher altitudes
  • When there are reflective surfaces, such as water and glass, that can direct additional UV rays toward workers

Use Sunscreen

Exposed skin should be protected with good quality sunscreen, following these guidelines:

  • Ensure the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Apply it 30 minutes before going outside
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after getting wet or sweating
  • Don’t forget exposed areas, such as ears, the back of your neck, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet

Cover Up

  • As much as the temperature and working conditions will allow, cover your exposed skin with clothing or headgear
  • If you wear a hardhat or other special headgear (e.g. welder’s helmet) at work, don’t forget to protect your head from the sun during breaks by wearing a hat and/or using sunscreen
  • As much as possible, take your breaks inside, in a vehicle, or in the shade

Be a Sun-Responsible Employer

If you are a company manager or owner with employees working outdoors, you should be aware of the dangers of over-exposure to the sun for your employees and help them keep protected.

Take the following steps for sun safety at your company:

  • Educate outdoor employees about the need to protect themselves from over-exposure to the sun
  • Make sun protection an important part of worker safety training and day-to-day precautions
  • Create a company culture that puts importance on sun safety
  • Provide sunscreen for employees to use on exposed skin at work
  • Provide company hats and caps for them to wear on the job
  • Provide gloves and uniforms that ensure maximum protection from the sun
  • Ensure outdoor employees have a place inside or in the shade for their breaks

Downloadable Sun at Work Resources

Sun at Work Canada Infographic 2015

Sun at Work Canada Overview